Dates of Trip:
With two weeks off of work at the end of the summer, I and the best adventure partner ever, Lulu Russell, went to check off a bucket-list item and hike the Cordillera Huayhuash, a 10 day alpine trek in Peru.
With our Bostonian sea level lungs we took off excited, but wary about whether or not our bodies would be able to hold up to the lofty goals we had set ourselves. We chose to forgo travel groups to cook our food and donkey’s to carry our equipment because that is just not how we roll.
But before we could attempt anything, we had to acclimatize and prove to ourselves that we could live above 4200m for 9 days. To do this we spent 3 nights in Huaraz hiking to Lake Churup and Laguna 69 to acclimatize. After getting some headaches and nausea on our first trip to Lake Churup, we came up with our most important rule for the trip. We were not allowed to pass anyone unless they were throwing up. In this fashion, we would be forced to move slowly, and thus, no headaches! This strategy was going to be our friend for the next 10 days.
After collecting the essentials in town, in no time we were on the public bus off to start our trek. The first day was intended to be a rest day at 4,000m camp and if we were having any trouble acclimatizing, we would take the bus back the next morning. We arrived at 11am in the morning, refilled water, scouted a campsite, and then sat to check our map. After sitting for a solid 30 minutes it was clear that Lulu and I would not be able to sit for the rest of the day. And so, we decided to attempt the first pass today and see where we got. If we had any headaches, we would just turn around.
And so we began, very, very slowly. We made it over our first pass that day, half a day ahead of schedule and we knew then and there, straddling two beautiful valleys with no one in sight, it was happening.
The days followed with beautiful scenery: endless valleys filled with cows and glacial capped peaks above with the brightest blue glacial lakes below. To give you an idea here is a Lulu quote: “this is the most beautiful region I have ever been in my life.” Noteworthy events included having a horse trample our tent in the middle of the night, meeting a trail family, Lulu’s first time above 5000m! and swimming in a remote mountain hot spring under the stars.
We had many moments when guides tried to convince us to let their donkey’s carry our bags. “You are going to get too tired with that much weight” they would say. It was obvious that two young girls traveling alone was not too common along the trek. When doing our acclimatization hikes we got asked by many people, why are you going self supported? are you sure you can handle carrying everything? are you sure that's safe? Over time these comments dig into you a little bit, especially when they come from people that you care about. But we had confidence in our preparation, knowledge, and fitness.
Overall, with sound decision making, lots of instant mashed potatoes, and incredible stoke we successfully completed our trip in style. We are very thankful for the Collier Adventure Grant for allowing us to push our boundaries and adventure in beautiful spaces. To end I would like to quote our uber driver: “Dos chicas solas en las montañas guau.”